Let’s get real for a moment. Teaching high school science is intimidating.
I still remember how nervous my homeschool mom was about high school science. When I got to physics, we couldn’t find any labs kits. It was a nightmare. My dad helped me do one physics lab without a kit. That single lab cost us around $75 in supplies. We also spent hours creating the tool we needed for the lab. And when we finished, it didn’t even work. We couldn’t collect reliable data, and I never finished that particular lab.
So what could my mom do? She knew she needed to keep homeschooling through high school—and that she needed to include labs. Before I tell you how she made high school labs work for our family, here are four reasons she was committed to teaching with labs.
1. Creational Approach
Science at its core examines the works of God. We’re looking at what He did at creation and how His creation functions. As much as nature documentaries and science textbooks can evoke awe and wonder at God’s creation, they’re only presenting what others have discovered by investigating God’s world. If we teach our kids science without incorporating close, hands-on examination of creation, we’re doing it wrong.
2. Deep Understanding
There were a number of chemistry concepts that I thought I understood. After all, I could ace the reading quiz. Then we did the lab over the concept. I discovered I didn’t understand it nearly as well as my quiz grade suggested. Labs are where head knowledge meets real-world experience and critical thinking. If I hadn’t completed the labs, I would have only superficial knowledge of chemistry without deep understanding.
3. Student Scientists
We aren’t teaching our children science so they can win on a TV game show or in a trivia competition. That would reduce science to superficial answers for esoteric questions such as, “Why is the sky blue?” That isn’t what science is at all. Instead, it’s a powerful tool for investigating and solving real-world problems. So when we teach our children science, we want them to act like junior scientists instead of students learning about science facts. Labs are where children act like scientists. This is especially true in high school science. We need labs to give our students the opportunity to behave like scientists.
4. Required Courses
Many states require lab sciences for high school graduation. And even if your state doesn’t, the college your son or daughter wants to attend may require it. And colleges may view non-lab science courses with suspicion. So how many labs should you include? A good rule of thumb is thirty hours of labs for each course. If you figure your setup time, lab time, and post lab time, each lab can last two to three hours. So aim for ten to fifteen labs.
Making Labs Happen at Home
So what did my mom do? She found kits. A number of kits helped us complete high school biology and chemistry. These kits made high school labs achievable. My sister and I could do most of these labs without any parental aid. They also made it affordable. We could have spent thousands of dollars if we had tried to pull together all the individual components that were in these kits. Instead, they cost my parents around $200.
For me, these lab kits made science creational, deepened my understanding, and gave me an opportunity to practice being a scientist.
At BJU Press, we’ve worked with Logos Science, Inc., to create lab kits for all of our secondary science textbooks and video courses. If you’re looking for something to help you bring labs to your homeschool, check out our Logos Science Kits.